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Dear Professor Johnson

,

During this course, there were many things in which I learned about not only the art of

writing, but also about my own ability in practicing such an art. In this final portfolio, you will

find that I have chosen to further edit and analyze the first and second writing prompts provided

to us. I chose the first prompt, the exploration of genre conventions in differing contexts, based

on the fact that it was one of my earliest writing pieces of the quarter and therefore it provides

me with a steady base of seeing how my writing has truly changed throughout this course.

Furthermore, derived from the fact this was one of my earlier writing pieces, it’s content proves

to be slightly weaker than my other two prompts and therefore I am able to make the most

changes in improving it. Additionally, my choice to include the second (literacy practices

research) prompt in this portfolio is based off the fact that this was a piece with great substance

and therefore plenty of opportunities in development. The second prompt was the one in which I

had the most difficultly in writing due to its research-based nature. I was determined to truly

understand what an APA research paper entailed and therefore I went forth to develop an

abstract and attempted to enhance the reminder of the paper. It was through the constant re-

editing of essays that I found that the concept of a ‘flawless’ paper ceases to exist, regardless of

one’s repeated proof reading.

My understanding of writing has undoubtedly grown and developed through the

progression of this class. Such an occurrence is a product of not only the teacher’s guidance, but

also through the guidance of the plethora of reading materials provided to us. Prior to this class,

my understanding of writing was rather solid, however in that, I believed that to prosper in

academic writing is to follow a set of rules and regulations regarding the ways of writing. Like

many of my peers, the belief in grammar and syntax as the ruling aspects of ‘good writing’ acted
as the main drive in all my pieces. I was an individual who always struggled in starting essays

due to the fact that I would dwell upon the ‘correctness’ and grammatical perfection of the text

before me. However, the more essays I began to write, the more it became apparent to me that

when I (over)think about what I am writing, I do not advance. It is through that realization that I

began free-writing. Shortly after such a realization, we were assigned the reading of Elbow’s

piece on “Teaching Thinking by Teaching Writing.” In such a text, Elbow introduced me to the

first and second order thinking; he explained how it is through “first order thinking” that we are

“creative and [do] not strive for conscious direction and control (Elbow 2). Elbow expands such

a point by explaining how writing without “control” allows you to “write fast without

censoring,” something in which I had begun actively doing with my papers. Prior to reading such

an article, I was unaware of the technical reasoning behind the ways in which I wrote; however,

understanding that the concept of “first order thinking” and its actual existence greatly

encouraged me in continuing my practice of free-writing. After being exposed to the benefits of

first order thinking, I found that I increased its application into my projects in not only this class,

but also in my other writing-based classes.

Not only did Elbow’s piece benefit me and my ability to grow as a writer, but Bunn’s

piece on “How to Read Like a Writer” was one that altered my approach on crafting text in

general. Prior to reading this material, I was somewhat aware of the importance of pear editing in

writing, however I was not familiar with the importance of my own ability to edit. It is through

such an ability that I learned how to read my text from an outsider’s perspective, whether that

meant reading my essays backwards, or revisiting them after several days of absence, acting as

my own biggest critique is one of the most effective ways of improving my writing.
Every writer has weaknesses. Unsurprisingly, it is difficult for one to consciously realize

the patterns of their mistakes. However, after reviewing texts that I have written, and discussing

them with both my piers and my teacher, I was able to discover several recurring problems. One

weakness that I found stood out was my repeated use of the same words and/or phrases, that of

which include the word “such”. In my third essay project alone, I found that I used the word

“such” and upwards of twenty times in my writing and so when it came time to edit, I spent a

significant amount of time rephrasing sentences to describe aspects of my essay without using

the word “such.” Another weakness that became prevalent to me is my tendency to write rather

vague and general sentences. In reality, individuals (especially myself) do not always have

incredible knowledge on the topics in which they are writing about; it is this limited knowledge

that led me into developing sentences that are almost without purpose as they are a safe way to

add content to a piece, without making a mistake about the complex topic. However, it is evident

that these ambiguous sentences only hinder the strength of my essay as they do not provide an

analysis, or evidence, to support their vague claims. Through the recognition of such faults, I

became a more conscious writer as I attempted to ensure that I did not fall into my repeated

mistakes. It is through my new practice of being more self-aware with the words in which I am

typing that my ability as a writer has changed since I wrote my first in-class essay about what my

favorite ‘genre’ was. It is significant for one to identify and mend their faults early on in their

writing career as the incorrect habit will only continue to worsen. It is also beneficial for one to

write with conscious awareness as it prevents aimless writing, which leads to aimless content and

therefore an unsuccessful piece.

With the plethora of weaknesses that abate the strength of my writing comes my

possession of beneficial skills that I use in developing successful pieces. One of my stronger
points as a writer is the fact that I genuinely love to write. Although this may not be seen as a

tangible strength, I believe it is wholly beneficial as I am able to indulge myself into most

writing projects with a passion that lacks in many other subjects, such as math. Another strength

in my writing is the way in which I pursue each of my texts with an open mind. I am an avid

believer in (constructive) criticism and I am always willing to change a sentence or a word or

even an entire essay if I was strongly advised to. It is through this open mind that I am able to

grow as a writer because the criticisms aided me in the identification of my recurring mistakes

and how to overcome them.

If I had more time, something in which I would have liked to continue to work on

includes the genre translation aspect of the third prompt. The assigned genre conversion gave us

the ability to choose a certain piece of text and translate it into our desired form; such a task left

me indulging in my creative ability, a factor of my being that is rarely practiced in college. My

ability to translate and identify genres with ease was strengthened through my exposure to Dirk’s

piece on ‘Navigating Genres.’ It was this piece that emphasized the importance of “recognizing

shifts” in my writing and understanding how these “shifts might effect [my] writing” (Dirk 9).

Such guidance enhanced my understanding of the roles of purpose, context, and audience; this

understanding aided my acknowledgements of the great impact that accompanies each of those

factors, in any piece of writing.

Overall, the diverse prompts of this writing class, combined with the articles in which we

were required to read, truly improved my writing and reading capabilities. So, I thank you for

that.

Sincerely,

Zeina Safadi
Work Cited

Bunn, Mike. “How to Read Like a Writer.” Writing Spaces: Reading on Writing, vol. 2, 2011,

pp. 71-86.

Dirk, Kerry. “Navigating Genres.” Writing Spaces: Reading on Writing, vol. 1, 2010, pp.

249-262.

Elbow, Peter “Teaching Two Kinds Of Thinking By Teaching Writing.” Changes, vol.15.6. 1983.

pp. 37-40.